This year's PAX have come and gone, and as per usual, I managed to spend far too much time at the Wargaming booth and neglected the rest of the show, at least on the first day. This year, the quality of the wargaming booth at PAX have taken a noticeable decline compared to the awesomeness that was on display on 2013 and 2014, and I would like to provide some feedback about this year's booth, and hope that you guys come back stronger than ever next year. I will quickly separate the wargaming booth into separate areas, and comment on what can be improved on each.
The Wargaming booth has a few distinct areas: the stage area, the play area, and the queue / open area. I will start from the stage, and work my way around.
The stage, with the giant wall screen and the most visible action to the rest of the convention, was noticeably less well designed this year compared to others. There was no clear, accessible schedule for events on the stage. More accurately, there were almost no notable events happening whatsoever there. In the past two years, there were ten computers set up on the stage, with clear scheduled times when competitions were going to happen, but there was an almost complete lack of communication between the organizers and the crowd, leading to people occasionally grouping up when a presenter was on stage, but nothing more exciting than that. Compared to the high octane, professionally shoutcasted impromptu matches of the previous two years, 2015 was a gigantic let down, with a lack of prizes and skilled competitions.
1 - Bring back the ten stage PCs. The 5v5 stage matches are the reason why many people get really, REALLY excited for PAX.
2 - Have a publicly accessible schedule. We want to know when the prize draws, competitions, and other things are happening. The schedule this time was an A4 sheet of paper hidden in the redemption booth that you have to go through 3 staff members to find one that know it exists.
3 - Get the shoutcaster back! The dude did an amazing job of interacting with the crowd and hyping up the event. His absence was very noticeable.
4 - Actual competitions with real prizes. You guys got outdone by your neighbouring Gigabyte booth tenfold, as they not only had a world of tanks tournament, they also gave away awesome prizes and the match was professionally shoutcasted and hyped. It is pretty bad when a third party is giving away 10,000 gold, a gaming mouse and a laptop bag hosting a tournament of YOUR game.
5 - Let people sign up to play in said tournament, and let them know when it is their turn, like the Gigabyte guys.
Queue, open area, and general interaction
The Queue area is, as the name suggests, is where the public line up to play the games or submit their tickets to the draw. In PAX 2013, when you lined up, volunteers came up and down the line to chat with customers, staff were giving out quizzes and handing out tickets to the draw, and the queue was also in full view of any events happening on the stage.
This year, the queue areas for the games are poorly located, down towards the back of the two storey structure, isolated from where the activity of the open area is. People are generally left to fend for themselves when waiting, without much to do in the dark. Frankly, it was so incredibly poorly located and marked people were leaving mid wait because they were getting bored with nothing to do.
1 - Put the queue somewhere that is visible to the stage. Don't split your crowd, and give them something to look at / do.
2 - Have more staff / volunteers to interact with people in general. Quizzes, loot throwing, all that stuff!
3 - Have staff at the reception desk that are actually knowledgeable and interested about the game and events happening.
4 - Bring back the tank! It was the best photo opportunity / publicity you can probably get.
Jesus, where do I even begin with the massive disappointment that is the gaming area.
I am going to go back to my example of previous wargaming booths at PAX. In 2013, players from the queue were asked about their experience beforehand, and split into the new and experienced players group. The new players were sat down, and coached in how to play the game by volunteers, while the experienced players were let loose with a challenge: get in a Tier 6, get 3 kills in a round, and win 800 gold. THIS WAS AWESOME. Both new and old players got a nice challenge, and earned some awesome prizes if you were really skilled or lucky. You even saw experienced fans helping their neighbours at times, and were allowed to play other vehicles that they have not unlocked yet, or are just generally unavailable such as the press account / supertester vehicles, and is a major draw for the hardcore fans.
This year, it was just... completely mediocre. There was a total of 3 staff members in the PC booth area, which is far less than enough. There was absolutely nothing worthwhile for an experienced player to be had: You were told to sit down, play one round of a bot match (wtf), and then moved off. What happened? The main draw for experienced fans at the gaming area was to show off their skills, or to try vehicles they normally do not have access to. This was, to put it lightly, disappointing as hell.
1 - More staff. There was not enough to attend to the new players.
2 - Challenges with prizes: something simple like the 800 gold for 3 kills challenge was perfect, and helps advertise your booth at basically no cost.
3 - Don't put the PC cases between players. There is no interaction between the players this year, compared to people chatting and playing previously.
4 - DON'T JUST LIMIT PEOPLE TO PVE BATTLES. Seriously. whose idea was this? Dumb beyond reason. EDIT: Some further discussion about this point has taken place below, and good points were made.
Prizes and stuff
And the final part: the prizes. You might notice a pattern by now, and it is: everything was done better in 2013. They had stamp cards that you can collect prizes you want depending on how many stamps you earned around the booth, whereas this year it was completely random. There was no notable competition for prizes, such as the razer challenge and so forth from last year. Your neighbour gave away awesome prizes for a world of tanks tournament, whereas there is not even a tournament at the wargaming booth.
In conclusion? Pull out whatever handbook you guys played by in 2013, and add more awesome stuff to it. Make it look like this AWESOME booth by esl, or it might just look like the hardline booth in the middle of the day, all deserted and alone.
I have played Wargaming games on and off since tanks beta, and have probably sunk well over a thousand hours in over the past half decade, but this event was so disappointing that I was inspired to put down my first forum post. I want to see you guys succeed, and bring back the awesomeness to PAX that you had in 2013. Have a good year, and I hope to see you at PAX in 2016!